chocolate walnut torte

by jenna on December 22, 2010


This is very special to me. If I had to pick my absolute favorite dessert recipe of all time, no matter what, it would be this chocolate walnut torte.

I vowed years ago to keep this family recipe a secret. Call me selfish, but I wanted to keep it all for myself.  I can be extremely possessive about chocolate, after all.

But…I decided for the sake of humanity to share. Because, well, you need this in your life. Just picture two layers of crispy meringue sandwiched between fluffy chocolate whipped cream and crunchy walnuts. It’s positively sinful.

And you’ll never guess what the secret ingredient is!

Saltines make me feel like a rebel. Maybe because they’re not healthy in the least bit, but also because I take extreme pleasure in stacking them together with creamy peanut butter and marshmallow fluff and then polishing them off, one by one.

In this case though, we are crushing them and folding them into the meringue to form the layers of the torte! It gives the meringue just a hint of salt, making it completely addicting in every way.

I wish I could take credit for this genius idea but like all good things, this is totally my mom’s doing. She got the recipe from a friend back during her retro flight attendant days. I love imagining her making it for my dad on one of their first dates.

I also love imagining her making it for me because somehow she always does it better. She made it for me last June for my birthday, actually! I had a bunch of friends over to my apartment and we all drank sangria and ate chocolate walnut torte. I told everyone I made by scratch but really, it was her the whole time.

I just licked the spoon.

The last thing I’ll say before I go take another bite is that this would make a perfect New Years Eve dessert. I know…I know. We haven’t even gotten through Christmas yet and I’m all over New Years… but really! You can make it in the morning (or even the day before!) and just let it chill until the ball drops. This allows way more time for closet fashion shows and cocktails with friends.

Please make this and report back. I’ll be in my fridge if you need me.

Chocolate Walnut Torte

makes one nine inch torte

2 egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

20 saltines, crushed

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 T cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325.

Begin to beat the egg whites. When you can’t see the bottom of the bowl anymore, start to slowly add the cup of granulated sugar while continuing to beat on high until stiff, glossy peaks form.

Fold crushed saltines into meringue.

Spread meringue onto two cake pan BOTTOMS that have been heavily greased with butter or cooking spray. Bake for twenty five minutes.

Whip cream with cocoa powder and sugar. Fold in walnuts.

Gently peel away meringue layers from cake pan bottoms. This might be difficult, but it’s easiest if you run a knife very gently underneath the meringue to loosen it up a bit. Don’t worry if it breaks a little—you’re covering the whole thing in whipped cream any way so no one will know the difference.

Spread half the whipped cream onto one meringue layer. Gently place the other layer on top and top with the remaining whipped cream. Spread all over and then dust with cocoa powder.

**can be made up to two days ahead of time and kept in the fridge.

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 22, 2010 at 5:05 am

I want to live with you.


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat December 22, 2010 at 5:18 am

Ditto to what Chelsey said, but I don’t even need a room. I’ll just live in your fridge. 😉


chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 22, 2010 at 6:15 pm

I don’t even need that much room – a cardboard box outside your window will do! :)


Blog is the New Black December 22, 2010 at 5:21 am

This looks absolutely delicious. Sounds like something I’d adore.


Baking 'n' Books December 22, 2010 at 5:22 am

It would be interesting to know how many people make your recipes versus how many people just WANT to…but are afraid – because they’ll never come out like yours or it’s not the typical crazy blogsosphere “healthy” (boo).

NYE? Um, Christmas Eve I think – it’s closer 😉


molly l. March 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm

of all the food bloggers, i make jenna’s recipes the most because they look and sound so.darn.good and her writing makes the recipes seem to be so relatable. i guarante that mine don’t always LOOK like hers but there is one thing that remains constant- they are all supremely delicious. brown sugar buttercream, zucchini pizza, her mom’s chili, white chicken chili, browned sugar CC cookies; i think i could go on and on. don’t be afraid is what i have to say! go ahead and make these culinary delights. these recipes are crazy foodie blogsphere good! :)


Lauren December 22, 2010 at 5:22 am

Thanks for sharing! Looks beautiful.


Marie December 22, 2010 at 5:22 am

It’s just not fair to show desserts that delicious this early in the morning!!! I haven’t even finished my coffee yet and now I’m going to sneak some Christmas cookies!


Angharad December 22, 2010 at 5:22 am

Woah, this thing looks ridiculous! I am a chocolate girl through and through..this would be way too dangerous on New Years though – one too many cocktails and I’d think it was clever to polish the whole thing off it one go!


Lauren at KeepItSweet December 22, 2010 at 5:23 am

i want this for breakfast, now


The Blue-Eyed Bakers December 22, 2010 at 5:24 am

Amazing! And the Saltines?! We have got to try this!


A Teenage Gourmet (Sami) December 22, 2010 at 5:29 am

Mmm, messy. :)


Sarah @ See Sarah Graduate December 22, 2010 at 5:30 am

Eat, Live, Run FTW … AGAIN.
Making this. ASAP.


Allie December 22, 2010 at 5:31 am

so so good. i think i can do this!!


megan @ whatmegansmaking December 22, 2010 at 5:38 am

yep, I want to make this too. :) Looks wonderful!!


AllergicGal December 22, 2010 at 5:52 am

Any suggestions to replace the Walnuts for someone allergic to tree nuts (all of them)? Sounds wonderful otherwise.


jenna December 22, 2010 at 8:15 am

hmmmmm….I would just leave the nuts out and have a chocolate cream torte instead :)


Lizzie June 8, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I have done just that – bf not keen on walnuts. It is delish! Bf laughed at me as I put crackers in the whipped eggs but he’s too busy eating to laugh now. Love retro deserts!


Kelly December 22, 2010 at 5:54 am

That looks delish. I will admit the word torte intimidates me every time I see it in a recipe. But…maybe I could do this…maybe???


jenna December 22, 2010 at 8:14 am

you could totally do this. “torte” sounds scary, yes, but I promise this is easy!


Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} December 22, 2010 at 6:07 am

This sounds like one of my grandma’s recipes. Delicious! I love family recipes.


jenna December 22, 2010 at 8:14 am

family recipes are the very best!!


Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) December 22, 2010 at 6:11 am

My grandmother used to put saltines in I swear, just about everything…and you’d never know they were in it!

But in a chocolate torte, that is a new one even for me! Clearly, I take your word for it…as I wipe the drool off my screen :)

Congrats to the winner of the book, too!


Baking 'n' Books December 22, 2010 at 10:35 am

We always put saltines in our soup :)


Amanda (Eating Up) December 22, 2010 at 6:13 am

Have you ever made the simple dessert of butter and chocolate on saltines? IT’S DELICIOUS, I PROMISE!


Abby December 22, 2010 at 7:28 am

My grandma used to eat butter and saltines all the time, to the point where there would be saltine “tracks” in the butter when she got older. Then again, she also believed that once you cooked meat, it didn’t need to be refrigerated anymore. Anyway, your version sounds a little healthier–or at least a little more chocolaty. 😉

Another super easy one is saltines lining a pan, spread with melted chocolate and sprinkle with toffee bits.


jenna December 22, 2010 at 8:09 am

hehehe grandmas are the best!


jassy December 22, 2010 at 6:18 am

totally sinful! yum! :) i like the way you write…it seems like you’re a funny person in real life :)


Alina @ Duty Free Foodie December 22, 2010 at 6:20 am

Your description sounds amazing! I’m putting this on my “To Make” list.


Jil @ Big, City, Lil Kitchen December 22, 2010 at 6:20 am

This sounds aaamazing!!


Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman December 22, 2010 at 6:22 am

At once it’s intimidating. I mean, it’s a torte. And at the same time it’s not: Um, Saltines? Either way, it looks fantastic.


Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman December 22, 2010 at 6:23 am

At once it’s intimidating. I mean, it’s a torte. And at the same time, it’s not: Um, Saltines? Either way, it looks fantastic.


Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks December 22, 2010 at 6:29 am

Your mom was way ahead of the curve on salty/sweet desserts!


Dee December 22, 2010 at 6:30 am

Oh dear me. This sounds absolutely amazing.


AllergicGal December 22, 2010 at 6:40 am

Any suggestions of what to substitute for Walnuts for the allergy prone? No tree nuts allowed, and I don’t think peanuts would work so well.


Anna December 22, 2010 at 6:48 am

Jenna, you need to stop posting so many delicious recipes in such a short span of time. I plan on baking one of your desserts in a few days for Christmas, but I just CANNOT pick one. Hands down, this is going to be the most difficult decision I’ve ever made in my life! Suggestions?


jenna December 22, 2010 at 8:13 am

hahah I’m sorry! Hmmm is it for a fancy dinner or just a laid back family meal? The chocolate walnut torte is really, really good and looks all pretty dusted with cocoa powder!


Anna December 22, 2010 at 11:24 am

Just a cozy, laid back meal with my family. Debating between this, the bohemian wedding cake, or old fashioned gingerbread cookies! Might just make all three. 😉


Krystina (Basil & Wine) December 22, 2010 at 6:48 am

This is SUCH a retro dessert – I love it.


Kristin December 22, 2010 at 6:53 am

I don’t think the rest of my family will really want this because of the walnuts….so I’m planning to make it and eat the entire thing myself. I hope that is okay. If my jeans don’t fit and it makes me sad, I’ll just have another helping and I’m pretty sure I’ll be back to my happy place. This looks like heaven!


jenna December 22, 2010 at 8:11 am

that sounds like the best plan ever.


Olympe December 22, 2010 at 6:54 am

Thanks for sharing!!
Same question than Chelsey: Can I live with you?


jenna December 22, 2010 at 8:11 am

yes. if you like cats and dark chocolate!


Heather (Heather's Dish) December 22, 2010 at 7:02 am

ok, for real, i’ll come clean your kitchen if my payment is this torte!


jenna December 22, 2010 at 8:10 am

okay. Come’on over!


Maria December 22, 2010 at 7:05 am

Fantastic dessert! Your site always leaves me craving sugar-I love it!


Camille December 22, 2010 at 7:11 am

This looks gorgeous! I am very protective of my recipes too. Much as I want everyone to enjoy it, I feel like it isn’t as special if everyone does :)


Amy @ HealthyPeanut December 22, 2010 at 7:22 am

Thanks for sharing! This looks amazingly light (in weight, not calories!) :)


Diana @ frontyardfoodie December 22, 2010 at 7:27 am

Yum yum yum! I’ve been a chocolate freak ever since I had my baby and this is making me drool. haha


Katie December 22, 2010 at 7:54 am

This looks fantastic.
Should I whip two cups of whipping cream or have two cups of whipped cream when I am done whipping?


jenna December 22, 2010 at 8:09 am

two cups of cream pre-whipping :)


Moni'sMeals December 22, 2010 at 7:55 am

Wow~ this looks great. Saltine crackers…I love it!
I hope to make it and I will let you know. :)


Mel December 22, 2010 at 8:02 am

Okay, so I am actually DEFINITELY going to make this…but quick clarification question: the cake pan bottom thing…you mean actually turning two nine inch cake pans upside down, greasing the part that usually touches the counter, and placing the meringue on that? Neato.

Do you have any suggestions as to how to get the finished meringue off of the second cake pan without destroying all the hard labor efforts??

Also, considering using pistachios in place of the walnuts (not a big walnut fan). What do you think? Would they make the whole thing too salty? And any suggestions on how to transport the delicacy?

Thanks!! (and thanks for teaching me how to poach an egg…enjoying one as I type! :))


jenna December 22, 2010 at 8:08 am

yes! on the bottom of the cake pans…extra greased! Don’t worry if it breaks a little when you try to get it off (the one in the picture totally broke down the middle!) –its easy to just place the pieces back in place and then glob the whipped cream on top…no one will know! I think that pistachios might make it a little salty…if you don’t want to use walnuts, I suggest slivered almonds!


D December 22, 2010 at 8:03 am

I really enjoy reading this blog and commenting I think that one piece constructive criticism shouldn’t warrant my comments being deleted!?!?!


jenna December 22, 2010 at 8:04 am

Hi! I have no idea why your previous comments were deleted. I’m having some issues with random comments flying into the spam folder so I’ll check for them there. sorry about that!


grocery goddess jen December 22, 2010 at 8:03 am

Dear Santa,

Please bring me a pair of expandable pants.



Vanessa December 22, 2010 at 8:08 am

Ok, this looks seriously amazing.


britt December 22, 2010 at 8:36 am

this looks absolutely amazing!


Katherine: Unemployed December 22, 2010 at 9:11 am

Never would have guessed with the secret ingredient; great idea!


Natalie O December 22, 2010 at 9:45 am

OMG! My mouth is watering….great looking recipe & pics :)


Nona Mills December 22, 2010 at 9:52 am

Never would have guessed with the secret ingredient; great idea!


Natalia - a side of simple December 22, 2010 at 10:09 am

This recipe is for one serving size, right? 😉


Allison K. December 22, 2010 at 10:36 am

I don’t really like meringue, but this sort of looks amazing. I am in charge of dessert for Christmas eve, and previously had been un-decided on what to bring…you may have just made up my mind.


Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather December 22, 2010 at 10:55 am

Chocolate with salty crackers? Count me in! Your mom is a genious.


Naomi S. December 22, 2010 at 11:19 am

Oh my! I almost fell off my chair when I saw the first photo. :)


Melissa G December 22, 2010 at 11:22 am

This looks awesome! One question: Do you whip everything by hand- if so with a wisk? Or can I use my hand mixer to whip the cream and egg whites? I don’t have a stand up kitchen aid. Thanks Jenna!


jenna December 22, 2010 at 11:37 am

I use a broken kitchen aid to whip things…but I have whipped the cream for this by hand in the past! it just takes a really cold bowl (stick in the freezer for an hour before), cold cream and strong triceps. As for the egg whites, you COULD do it by hand but it’s a lot of work. I recommend a hand mixer for that!


Jessica @ How Sweet It Is December 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm

If this isn’t heaven, I don’t know what is.


Megan (Braise The Roof) December 22, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Ok, here’s a question: how finely crushed are we talking with these saltines? Do you want chunks or more of a powder?


Justeen @ Blissful Baking December 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Ohhh that looks absolutely delightful! mmm


ingrid December 22, 2010 at 3:11 pm

jenna, sweet lord this sounds and looks amazing! i am totally going to make this for new year’s eve… do you make your own whipped cream?? how??? i have a kitchen aid mixer i got for our wedding six years ago (that i barely ever use) can you post your recipe for whipped cream? or so you have it somewhere on here already? or do you use store bought?


jenna December 22, 2010 at 4:23 pm

all you do to make whipped cream is just whip cream on high in your kitchen aid! :) It will get really thick…and you can add a quarter cup sugar to make it a little sweet!


Lacey @ Lake Life December 22, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Two words:


(Ok I guess that was technically 4…or 11 😉 )


Christine @ The Pantry Drawer December 22, 2010 at 11:56 pm

This looks amazing! and I love the salty-sweet combination. I already wanted to try it out by how great it looked, but after that review, I HAVE to do it soon! Thanks for sharing the family secret, I’m sure your mother would be proud!


Amy December 23, 2010 at 6:55 am

I think I just fell in love with a torte.


Ffion December 29, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Oh how I love anything with fresh double cream! Meringue and chocolate are the perfect accompaniments!


S Young January 21, 2011 at 11:53 am

My mother use to make this recipe back in the 70’s (I’m 52) and it was called Mystery Pie. She had it written down and glued in old scrapbook of hers, that I still have (filled with recipes from magazines, newspapers, etc). That recipe was so unbelievably good. She always said it was her favorite dessert (and she was French). I can’t believe someone else has this recipe! I thought it was my secret!


dragonfly180 February 2, 2011 at 8:04 pm

i have got to print this. i absolutely LOVE torte! my favorite birthday cake was a big container of four different kinds of yummy torte that my hubby bought me one september.


Kris April 30, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Hi, I came upon your blog and instantly fell in love with this recipe – so I just had to make it.




If there is anyone out there who is merely just thinking about making this…you really, really should. Really.

5 stars!

Thank you.


Emily December 7, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I made this for my own birthday (…yeah, I do that) this summer and somehow never remembered to come back and thank you! So here it is, several months belated: THANK YOU for one of the best birthday cakes I’ve ever had. So glad you decided to share the recipe. I didn’t adapt a thing – what could be better than saltines, cream, and sugar?! – and it turned out absolutely wonderful… This is definitely a recipe to memorize! :)


Han December 28, 2013 at 4:57 pm

SO GOOD! Fluffy, crispy, and chocolatey. Light and perfect for a holiday dessert after a heavy meal! We’ve used this as our go-to Christmas dinner dessert for the last two times we’ve hosted and it has been an absolute hit each time! :)


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